The Counter Crusade

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Warrior Muslimas 2: Rumaysa bint Milhan

In the previous post I discussed the role of women in society and the military, supporting this active role with the story of Umm Haram bint Milhan, who asked the Prophet of Allah (pbuh) to pray that she join a Muslim expedition of warriors to Cyprus, and he prayed to God that she would. This did in fact take place during the Caliphate of Uthman (r.a.), and her resting place in Cyprus is now one of the holiest sites for Muslims.

In this post I will present the example of her sister, Rumaysa bint Milhan, who later became known as Umm Sulaym. As I mentioned in the previous post, the Prophet had a special compassion for Rumaysa and her sister and would often visit them and eat at their houses. When asked about it, he replied that their brother was killed fighting right beside him.

Rumaysa (r.a.) was one of the first women of Medina to accept Islam and taught it to her young son Anas ibn Malik (r.a), infuriating her husband, but that husband was killed by an enemy of his. Afterwards, a man called Abu Talhah came to ask her hand, and she made his conversion to Islam as her mahr (dowry) instead of the gold and silver that he had offered. She actually lectured him about the stupidity of worshipping a piece of wood when he was proposing to her! Abu Talhah became a very devout and ascetic Muslim and they were among those who gave their allegiance to the Prophet at the second Pledge of Aqabah, inviting him to their city.

Rumaysa and Abu Talhah had an exemplary Muslim family life, devoted to the Prophet and the service of Muslims and Islam. The Prophet used to visit their home. Sometimes when the time of Prayer came, he would pray on a mat provided by Rumaysa. Sometimes also he would have a siesta in their house and, as he slept, she would wipe the perspiration from his forehead. Once when the Prophet awoke from his siesta, he asked: "Umm Sulaym, what are you doing?" "I am taking these (drops of perspiration) as a barakah (blessing) which comes from you ," she replied.[1]

She said that ""His sweat smelt nicer than the nicest perfume," and her son Anas would say that "his sweat was pearl-like".[2]

Rumaysa was noted for her great courage and bravery. During the Battle of Uhud, she carried a dagger in the folds of her dress. She gave water to and tended the wounded and she made attempts to defend the Prophet when the tide of battle was turning against him. At the Battle of Khandaq, the Prophet saw her carrying a dagger and he asked her what she was doing with it. She said: "It is to fight those who desert."

"She was devoted to the Prophet and dedicated her son Anas to his service. She took the responsibility of educating her children and she played an active part in public life, sharing with the other Muslims the hardships and the joys of building a community and living for the pleasure of God."
[1]



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1. Rumaysa's Biography
2. The Sealed Nectar

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